Saturday, February 16, 2008

The War on Participation

A riot recently broke out in my neck o' the woods at a Dead Prez concert when police attempted to arrest a black man who was initially roughhoused by a group of white trouble-makers. But the concert-goers surrounded the police car, set the prisoner free, and then asserted their power over this unjust police procedure. Soon, riot police arrived and gassed a crowd that vandalized three police cars in anger. The local media have done their part in shaming this event as an anarchist act of rage.

What enrages me is that after someone had reported this on the Tacoma SDS website, an upset Tacoma concert-goer responded furiously that because of the anarchists in Olympia, the Dead Prez group would not be playing in Tacoma.

Apparently this person knows "enough" about SDS to know that we're "anarchists". Imagine that. Well, that is, anarchy poorly defined as Hobbesian chaos and disorder. Not to mention that SDS is not even anarchism charitably defined. Nonetheless he builds in the absolutists' defense of totalitarianism by nodding to (of all political constructs) theoretical Monarchism! Whereas there are multiple layers of misunderstanding built into this reaction, the first at the level of "facts" of the case, the second being a contempt for participatory politics itself, which is one of the greatest sources of change in liberal democratic societies. My position is much more broad than anarchism. It appears as though a defense of participation itself is in need.

If you have no patience for those who participate, those who understand the dynamics of social change, and who dream of utopia, then what do you say about all the revolutionary, visionary, utopianists who came before this generation? We are all the beneficiaries of this long line of utopia-dreamers and revolutionaries. If you want to give credit for your liberties, which revolutionaries will you credit, sir?

If a status-quo monger like this one possesses "all-encompassing hate" for those envisioning greater justice in our society, then sigh, sigh, sigh. There's no reason to appease this kind of criticism because it's rooted in something much more radical than participation itself, and that is, radical apathy. In societies dominated by apatheist ideology, such as the "die, hippie die" mantra of many a South Park episode, those who take principled stances against all forms of imperialism and bigotry are cast aside as "stupid anarchists" for challenging the status quo. This is why the Left must always work so much harder than the rest of society. The rest of society is so inculcated with the ideas of the ruling spectacle, they have come to even hate participation itself.

1 comment:

Muser said...

Theoretical Monarchism? Well, I'll be darned. With George Bush II, we certainly have had practical monarchism of a kind; the results have been less than ideal, the reviews mixed, and Vice King Cheney derided.